In light of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy, travelers are learning that they are limited as to where they may file a lawsuit to get reimbursement for their losses. Because of the fine print on the cruise’s tickets, the injured passengers’ lawsuits must be filed in Italy. For a Costa cruise that touches any part of the U.S., the ticket contract says the lawsuits should be filed in Federal Court in South Florida. The same is true for Carnival Cruise Lines, which owns Costa, and many other major cruise lines. But for cruises that travel only outside of the United States, the ticket usually mandates that any claims be brought where the foreign shipping company’s base of operations or corporate headquarters are located. These “choice of forum” clauses in the cruise line industry are not as common in other forms of travel, according to yesterday’s article in Lawyers Weekly.
Lawsuits against airlines can be brought almost anywhere the air carrier does business for domestic flights. For injuries in international flights, lawsuits can generally be brought in the airlines home location or where the flight departed, among other venues. According to Doug Landau of the Herndon law firm ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd., the injured air traveler may have several choices when it comes to where to bring the claim. Lawyer Landau notes that the negligent defendant, whether airline, bus company or other “common carrier,” can generally be sued where they “live” (i.e., their headquarters or main Read the rest of this entry »